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Email archiving – not just another nice-to-have

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Symantec_big.jpgIn light of regulatory issues around IT governance as stipulated by the South African King III draft on good corporate governance – now open for public comment – e-mail archiving has yet again come under the spotlight.

The draft report states: In IT governance, one seeks confidentiality; integrity and availability of the functioning of the system; possession of the system, authenticity of system information; and assurance that the system is usable and useful. Concerns are unauthorised use, access, disclosure, disruption or changes to the information system.

The protection of the information that enters and resides within an organisation is therefore more important than ever, which is why it so important that e-mail is archived and protected in order to safeguard these valuable assets.

Indeed, e-mail is a mission-critical part of any organisation, irrespective of its size and regulatory issues. In fact, recent studies by the Enterprise Strategy Group suggest that e-mail and other messaging applications store as much as 75 percent of a company’s intellectual property.

As such Gartner reports the e-mail archiving software market grew 33% in 2007 to reach $376 million and is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of nearly 36% until it reaches $1.72 billion by 2012. This growth is driven by the above issues and will undoubtedly also be mirrored by South African
organisations such as financial institutions and listed entities face increasing regulatory pressure.

E-mail archiving 101

So where to start? Currently there are two main alternatives to consider: in-house or hosted. The in-house alternative uses internal resources and IT infrastructure to process and store archived e-mail messages.

Hosted solutions on the other hand provide a feasible option to companies with limited IT budgets and personnel as well as those wanting to avoid investing capital upfront.

The next decision pertains to specific requirements for the email-archiving solution. For example, what systems will it support; what is the volume of messages that will pass through it each day; and what information should be retained?

Once the above is determined it will help set the criteria that will be used
to select a product. Other important questions to ask also include:

. Do you have mixed systems (Windows, Unix, Linux);
. Is your corporate email system centrally located or geographically dispersed;
. Can the solution archive messages from multiple email systems;
. Can the solution capture messages at the gateway;
. Does expansion of the system require taking the system down;
. Can the solution search across individual mailboxes throughout a network;
. How long would an enterprise-wide search take;
. How are messages secured;
. Can the solution work with encryption;
. Can the solution allow off-line access to the archive; and
. Can the solution present to users only those messages they have permission for?

After a solution has been chosen, roll it out in a phased approach, dividing the environment into logical segments. This will serve as good trial run and ensure a gradual change which will also benefit the change management process within the organisation.

What should an effective archive solution provide?

As soon as the archiving solution is successfully implemented, organisations should start reaping the benefits. Indeed, an effective archiving platform will store, manage, and enable the discovery of corporate data from e-mail systems, file server environments, instant messaging platforms, and
collaboration and content management systems.

From a legal and compliance perspective, an archiving solution should be able to be configured to retain and expire e-mail and other electronically stored information according to policy, ensuring that it is kept for the appropriate period of time required to meet regulatory or legal requirements.

Also, from an intelligent management perspective, your archiving solution should control archive storage and operational costs. Intelligent archiving, for example, essentially shapes the archive to store only business-valued content with context. This is accomplished through classification options
using automated classification, user-driven classification, or third-party (for example, records management) approaches.

Lastly, it should allow for safe e-discovery; enabling organisations to analyse and filter search results to quickly drill down to the most relevant content with a few simple clicks of the mouse.

Ultimately, your archiving solution should alleviate the pressure of effectively protecting and managing business-critical data, safeguarding your company’s intellectual property.

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